Last week I wrote a blog post about editing. I was very nice in it and only named one author that had pissed me off. I was extremely tactful even though I was so angry that I actually had to stop reading for a bit the other night because everywhere I looked I saw spelling mistakes and I could barely see the rest of the story.
Since then, I've thought a lot about how tactful I should be when reviewing others work. At first I thought I would just not mention shoddy work, as it seemed unkind to name and shame people. I wondered how to tell an author tactfully that their work isn't great. Then I read something very interesting in a book. It paraphrases to this: by putting your work up for sale, you are saying that you as the writer and editor of your writing have decided that it is fit for public consumption. This means that you aren't asking me for my critique as a writer, you are asking for my money and my opinion as a reader. I have limited time and money to spend reading, so I feel that what I'm reading should be worth it. I could point out that I also have a desire to let other readers know when something isn't worth paying for, but that is a minor part. It would be hypocritical to let you assume I'm that altruistic. I have a lot of opinions as a reader, and I'm about to start expressing them.Oh, I am so talking to you.
Yesterday I bought a story from the Kindle store. I read it, despaired of it, and asked for a refund. I'll be damned if I'm giving any more of my money or time to poor work without expressing my opinion about it from here on in. I am done with paying for work that isn't finished.
I'm no longer afraid to say what I want to say about writing I don't enjoy. I don't owe you constructive criticism, self-published author. Since you've already published you're basically telling me you don't need it. So you'd better get used to the idea of people telling you your writing sucks, because that's what it'll come down to if it's not a polished product when you put it up for sale.